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What did we learn from the first Trump-Clinton debate?

  • Published at 11:40 am September 28th, 2016
  • Last updated at 12:54 pm September 28th, 2016
What did we learn from the first Trump-Clinton debate?
The end of a US presidential debate is a time to express dissatisfaction - at the system, the candidates, the moderators and the press. Lester Holt did an admirable job of managing a difficult candidate in Donald Trump. Some have criticised him for not being sterner and more proactive about the candidates to the allotted times, but if he had been harder he and CNN would in all likelihood have been lambasted for being partisan. The New York Times has compiled some debate data that is worth pondering. This data is quantitative and not qualitative and gives readers a chance to assess who had the more effective - however one wants to define that - performance. During the first president debate last night, Trump spoke for three minutes longer than Clinton at 44 minutes 23 seconds, but the perception is that he managed to get considerably more airtime than she. This perception may be the result of the fact that audiences remember emotional and emotive language more than dispassionate analysis. Sadly, it pays to be accusatory over being reasoned and calm. Clinton was asked 17 questions; she dodged none. Trump was asked 15 but dodged four, or nearly a third of the substantive questions put to him. Trump interrupted Clinton three times more than she did him, with 29 interruptions by Trump and just 9 by Clinton. Moderator Lester Holt fact-checked Trump 5 times during the debate. Clinton was not fact checked even once. Finally, while Clinton asserted that her opponent was untruthful on 10 occasions, Trump asserted that Clinton was dishonest no less than 26 times. The political handlers, the public and the press will probably read this data differently and act accordingly. At the next debate and in the intervening time, adjustments will be made by the campaigns and media coverage will chase down the stories as they unfold. That is what makes the US presidential elections the greatest horse race on earth, and the stakes in this unique presidential election in 2016 are making a betting man or woman of every voter here.
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